Millions of people around the world have fled their homes because of war or fear of persecution. Most have sought asylum in nearby developing countries – Pakistan and Syria together host around three million for example.
Some refugees cannot go home or are unwilling to do so because they will face continued persecution. In such cases, the usual solution is resettlement – the transfer of refugees to another country of asylum.
The UN refugee agency estimates that 747,000 refugees need to be resettled. Yet fewer than 66,000 found new homes in 2008, and of those just 4,378 were resettled in the EU.
This proposal aims to boost Europe’s response to resettlement – and reduce the number of refugees who risk their lives to reach EU shores illegally.
The programme is designed to make it easier and more cost-effective for countries to take in refugees.
The proposal only concerns refugees from outside the EU. Countries would retain the right to decide which refugees to accept and how many.